St. Louisan David Freese, the
leading candidate for the Cardinals' open third base job for 2010, did not stand
himself in good stead with the organization when he was arrested on a DWI charge
in St. Louis County on Dec. 12. According to a police
report, Freese's blood alcohol level was 0.232, almost three times the legal
limit in Missouri.
Upon learning of the arrest,
general manager John Mozeliak said, "We are extremely disappointed upon hearing
this." Shortly thereafter, Freese entered the club's employee assistance
Freese's agent, Phil Tannenbaum,
said, "David is not an alcoholic by any stretch of the imagination. That's
probably the best answer I can give. David is cut from an excellent piece of
cloth. David has never had a problem with alcohol. It's something that's very,
However, it was the second time
Freese, 26, has been arrested on alcohol-related charges. He was arrested Sept.
12, 2007, on suspicion of public intoxication and resisting or obstructing a
police officer in California. The misdemeanor charges stemmed
from an incident at the Lake Elsinore Hotel and Casino, situated near where the
San Diego Padres' Class A team played its home games.
The Padres traded Freese to the
Cardinals a couple of months later for Jim Edmonds. At the time, the Cardinals
were unaware of Freese's previous arrest or the case's pending
The public intoxication charge was
eventually dropped, but Freese pleaded guilty in January 2008 in a Riverside County court to the obstruction charge and
was sentenced to three years' probation.
The Cardinals became aware of
Freese's previous arrest last winter, after details surfaced about a January
accident in which Freese lost control of his car on an ice-slicked road in
County. Freese sustained
injuries to both feet and ankles when his car veered into a ditch. Though he
made the Cardinals' opening-day roster, Freese eventually required surgery to
repair his left ankle and was sidelined about half of the
The Cardinals did not discipline
Freese, according to Tannenbaum. "I believe Mo would have said something to me
if that was going to happen," Tannenbaum said.
Freese was recalled in September
and went 7-for-12 with a home run and five RBIs. His Cardinals average for 31
total at-bats was .323 after he batted .300 in 200 at-bats for Class AAA
--RHP Brad Penny, who signed a
one-year contract with the club, said he had wanted to play for the Cardinals
for years. The Oklahoma native said, "I grew up a Cardinals
fan. I grew up an Ozzie Smith fan. I've wanted to play for them before, and I
thought it was going to work out a few times in the past. This is
Penny is considered one of the
hardest throwers in the game, often reaching the mid 90s, but pitching coach
Dave Duncan is hopeful of making the veteran a more complete pitcher, perhaps
utilizing his split-fingered pitch more.
"There are things he does very
said. "Perhaps there is a thing or two we can offer that will make him
--The Cardinals reportedly tweaked
their offer to free agent OF Matt Holliday, who is "still is a player we like
very much and hope to retain," general manager John Mozeliak said. The multiyear
offer is said to be in the $15 million to $16 million per year range and may be
for anywhere from six to eight years.
--Manager Tony La Russa was one of
14 men named to a special committee by commissioner Bud Selig to consider
improvements in "on-field matters," relative to pace of game, playoff schedules,
instant replay and other matters. La Russa, one of four managers added to the
committee, said, Selig "was quite clear when he asked me that there would be no
restrictions. This is not going to be a laborious process with lots of just
talk. I think things could happen very quickly -- if it's the right issue and if
there is a meeting of the minds."
--While new hitting coach Mark
McGwire hadn't yet had his promised press conference, La Russa said McGwire had
already started on his new job. "He's had conversations with some of our guys.
He's worked with guys (in California) over the winter. He's studied
tape. I know how excited he is about it," La Russa said.
--Asked what he might do after he
stopped managing, La Russa, third on the all-time list with 2,552 victories,
said, "When you don't feel like you should be in the dugout anymore or on the
field, if you only know baseball ... it's not on the field, it's upstairs
somewhere doing something."
BY THE NUMBERS: .205 -- Batting
average by National League opponents against RHP Brad Penny after he was signed
by San Francisco
late in the season. While with Boston for most of the season, Penny's
opponents batted .299.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's a guy you
didn't like to face. Any time you went into a game with him on the mound, you
had a suspicion it was not going to be an easy game." -- Cardinals pitching
coach Dave Duncan, on newly acquired RHP Brad Penny.
The Cardinals didn't have many
needs as the season ended although they probably could use one more veteran
starting pitcher to go with RHPs Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse. RHPs Joel Pineiro and Todd Wellemeyer, who filled out the rotation, both
likely will be gone as free agents.
BIGGEST NEEDS: When the Cardinals
were dismissed early from the playoffs, they set the wheels in motion to try to
re-sign free agent LF Matt Holliday and also 3B Mark DeRosa. Holliday, however,
seemed likely to go into the open market.
ARRIVAL: RHP Brad Penny (free
agent from Giants).
DEPARTURE: RHP Brad Thompson
(released, signed minor league deal with Royals).
FREE AGENTS: RHP Joel Pineiro, RHP
Todd Wellemeyer, RHP John Smoltz, INF Khalil Greene, INF Mark DeRosa, 3B Troy Glaus, OF Rick Ankiel, LF Matt Holliday.
The Cardinals have large interest
in keeping Holliday and DeRosa and some interest in Smoltz. The others probably
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: OF Ryan Ludwick, 2B Skip Schumaker.
Schumaker will make more as a
second baseman than an outfielder. Ludwick likely will get close to $7 million
and might have to be traded for payroll relief if Holliday signs a multiyear
IN LIMBO: OF Ryan Ludwick, a
candidate to be traded last year, could be dealt this time. RHP Josh Kinney, a
playoff hero in 2006, probably won't return.
3B Mark DeRosa (left wrist surgery
in October 2009) should be ready for spring training.
1B Albert Pujols (arthroscopic
right elbow surgery in October 2009) should be back at full strength for spring